Sunday, July 5, 2009

Boot camp anyone?

Ernest sent me an e-mail the other day, with an offer that at least in theory I should find hard to refuse.

Last year, about a month or so after we had moved here, my husband came home from work and told me that one of his colleagues was taking part in a women's fitness program called "Boot Camp". I actually had some idea of what was involved as a friend of mine in Winnipeg also did at least one boot camp and spoke quite highly of this workout. Of course I somewhat neglected to remember that she was already in fairly good shape when she started, but when I went to the organiser's website here in the Cayman Islands, I was assured that this program was suitable for couch potatoes and Mr. Universe qualifiers alike.

It's not that this is not true, but obviously it takes a pretty strong sense of self to drag yourself out of bed at five o-clock in the morning, don the first pair of gym shorts you have worn since high school and try to run a lap around the track while some of your fellow boot campers are passing you on their fifth lap and not even breaking a sweat. It became quite obvious to me that our particular group consisted of a hard core of permanent boot campers who - in the words of one - "had been to a million of these", and on the other end people like me who had not done anything remotely so regimented since high school when we had to do sit-ups and chin-ups in front of the whole class...

This is where Ernest comes in - he is the owner of a local fitness studio and looks like one of those Mr. Universe qualifiers. He runs the boot camps, which start at 5:30 am, and I have to say that he did a fantastic job, considering many of us ranked this type of workout on the same scale as a visit to the dentist. No day was the same, although I can't say that any day was easier than the other, and the way he organised the program it really was possible for everyone to go at their own pace. However, he also made sure that no one slacked off, and he had an uncanny ability to know exactly what people's real limits were as opposed to what they profusely argued they could do.

For those who don't know, boot camp is a one hour workout combining cardiovascular and strength training activities in a manner that is extremely regimented and demanding, hence the name, since the original boot camps were used to train new military recruits.

We started with a few minutes of warm-ups consisting of jumping jacks and the like, and just when you thought the warm-up was enough exercise for the day because you could hardly breathe, Ernest cheerily announced it was time to run laps around the track for five minutes. Luckily, he did not actually make us run, and so many of us walked at a brisk pace while Ernest watched us closely from the sidelines, urging us on.

As well organised and well-run this program was - after four weeks I decided boot camp just wasn't for me. Partly because I dreaded getting up so early, but also because I found this style of exercise too pounding and regimented. I am not quite as averse to exercise as I perhaps let on, having done yoga and bellydance for a long time, and never once dreaded going to a class, quite the opposite. I decided my body and mind were more suited to a gentler form of exercise, and I decided not to do any more boot camps.

But Ernest is sure working hard to win me back! He just sent out an e-mail announcing that the former boot camp location has been changed - pretty much right outside of my house. And it's not a clever ploy on Ernest's part to make sure that I had no more excuses, but rather owing to the location of our house near a large church parking lot, which is now the new boot camp training location. I could literally just get up, put on my exercise gear and walk outside to start while others need to drive some way for the privilege. But I must admit it's not really that tempting. Somewhat guilt-inducing, yes, but tempting, no.

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